How was car wash manufacturer Christ able to increase production despite the absence of any additional space? By using AMADA press brakes and laser cutting machines and a matching multilevel stacker system – custom-engineered to fit into the limited space available in the existing production hall.
Below the roof, there was barely any space left. This is why the 244 pallet, two row compact store arranged over a length of 39 metres, is one of the largest of its type in Eastern Europe. This is sufficient storage space to ensure the three downstream, brand new AMADA laser cutting machines are continuously supplied with metal sheets. Fully automatically whenever the machines send a request. “Thanks to this compact system, we have been able to increase our machine capacity utilization, that is to say overall system availability, to a much higher level,” says Dr. Jan Mikula, Managing Director of CHRIST CAR WASH in Pilsen. Transport operations by forklift truck, which cost time and interrupt production, are now a thing of the past.
This Czech production site of the car wash manufacturer Otto Christ AG, which is based in Memmingen, Germany, has been operating since 1996. The Pilsen branch, which started out as a small welding and assembly company, has grown constantly ever since. Nowadays, modules for practically all Christ car washes are prefabricated in the Czech Republic before being sent to Memmingen for the necessary finishing work. To carry on meeting the demand for these metal constructions, it had become essential to expand capacities in Pilsen.
Three new AMADA HD series press brakes and three FO-3015 II NT type laser cutting machines came on stream in September of last year. Together with the multilevel storage system, which was also designed by AMADA, they form an overall system which is controlled by a central software solution. But it was not just AMADA’s technical response that impressed Jan Mikula. Most of all, it was the company’s customer orientation that aroused his admiration and, in the case of the laser cutting machines, even persuaded him to switch from his previous supplier. “The crucial thing was the multilevel storage system,” he recalls. He had previously been told that this type of installation would be impossible without first reinforcing the foundations or even converting the roof. AMADA, however, was determined to find a solution. “We arrived with our structural engineers and architects so that we could study conditions on site and make our preliminary calculations,” explains AMADA’s Regional Manager, Norbert Ihle. The result was a multilevel storage system tailored to the prevailing circumstances, without costly conversion measures and – another important consideration – without having to interrupt production during installation.
And, once more, the material transport unit runs along the aisle between the two rows of multilevel shelving. This, too, was designed to take up as little space as possible. It is exactly as wide as the maximum width of the metal sheets that it transports from the storage pallet through to the pallet changer at one of the three laser cutting systems. “The system organizes how its feed requirements are met itself,” explains Norbert Ihle. This is another advantage that is particularly important in the case of interrupted short runs when, for example, only one metal sheet of a specific size is required for special parts. The comings and goings of the forklift trucks that used to transport the material are long gone. And last but not least, the employees also benefit from this fully automated solution: “In particular for those working night shifts, the fact that the material no longer has to be brought to the machines greatly simplifies things,” explains Jan Mikula.
At present, Christ’s Managing Director in Pilsen is considering the acquisition of a fourth laser cutting system. This is intended to replace an old punching machine and make production operations even more flexible and efficient. Mikula also benefits from the fact that the multilevel storage system has been designed and arranged in the factory in a way that means it can be extended without difficulty. A factor that AMADA took into account very early during the planning phase.
CHRIST CAR WASH, Pilsen, is the Czech production site of Otto Christ AG, which is based in Memmingen in the German Allgäu. It is one of the leading manufacturers of gantry and tunnel washing solutions for cars, trucks, buses and rail vehicles. Many of these systems are manufactured in Pilsen: from the metal working operations through to the electronics. Alongside its sheet metal construction activities, the factory possesses one of the first welding shops in the Czech Republic to be certified in accordance with European standards, a state-of-the-art painting facility, and a department responsible for final assembly. CHRIST CAR WASH has 300 employees.
Pictures: Conny Kurz